August 7, 2021
Brief summary of the three shows at Thelma
So I just finished listening to all three of the Thelma shows. Something enjoyable in each one of them. Certainly on the 10th the Steven stills songs are worth listening to and quite pleasant to hear his guitar licks in morning dew through black queen. It's a nice clean version to sounds great compared to the old shitty cassette that I used to have that really was terrible sounding to the point where I thought Stephen stills was terrible when he really wasn't... The December 11th show has highlights also with the dark star and pretty much everything that follows it. On the 12th, the lovelite is a real standout. It starts off ordinary. And having now listened to every single love light up to this point in order, I'm a little burnt out on it. But this one's really great. There's a slow part where it just almost comes to a stop but really it's building up into a whole new path that I haven't heard on other versions....But at all three nights the highlight for me is definitely the alligator caution it's just fearsome. A lovely we bid you good night to close things out... Not too shabby for my much-maligned hometown of LA
December 6, 2020
Last two shows of six, in three days, which was essentially the last time they played a tiny room. They next played in L.A. County at Thee Club, (in West Hollywood, on Santa Monica Blvd); which, though not tiny, was still less than 1000cap. Thelma was also a West Hollywood address, and was just a room, not a theater. It was two doors down from music mecca Whiskey a Go Go, and the Dead must have been wondering why they weren't loading-in to that club! You'd think they were too big by then to play this room, but LA always treated them strangely, and this may have been a vanity booking (no promoter/no chance of profit). It's hard to find info on this venue because it lasted the last two months of 1969 and was then gone. Plus, early ads give a wrong address (across the street from The Viper Room). Before Thelma it was The Galaxy; before that it was Little Hungary/Gypsy Music. They turned the house between the early and late shows. Live/Dead was being promoted at the time, and one commenter said that a woman from WB had a box of new LPs and was handing them out. I guess there was no merch table back then! Records were cheap, too. Well, all of LIFE was cheaper. The previous night is the better of the run - as others have noted these shows aren't particularly standout, just GOGD.
Early Show. The first couple are average '69 & GOGD. Easy Wind settles into a groove halfway, then completely loses tempo. This is one of the greatest early versions of Cumberland Blues (along with 12/31); so earnest. Black Peter is tight but too spare, and because it is vamped-out it's one of the longest versions. The SBD has a cut @3:02 of 43secs; it's complete on the official. Next Time You See Me starts okay, then the tempo gets stuck right in the mud, paying it no favors. China Cat is an example of the '69 style - mostly straightforward but with a couple of biting Jer leads [Leads? They got us working in shifts!]. Lovelight is episodic, stitched with lots of serious vamping (waiting for Pig, who is not as inventive this night). There's a reel flip @27:47. At 28: 36 the official release cuts to 12/19 Old Fillmore for 1:45, missing 25secs of the SBD.
Late Show. Hard to Handle is drummer's soup, un-tightening the band. They get it back some over the next few. High Time is a very quiet version, as overtly mellow as most of this night. Dire Wolf is a version sans drummers, but with Pig on tambourine. On Good Lovin’, the SBD has a reel flip @4:55. The official release has an edit @3:57 where it switches to 12/29 Boston for 1: 27 (missing 58secs of the SBD). Uncle John’s Band is just the second one, and they're already jamming on it. Just a Hand to Hold is a relatively concise version. Phil starts a Dark Star but it doesn't go and they agree on Alligator. The first part loses its energy but, post-Drums, the second part is better. It has a Goodnight Jam @15:26. Note that this is a 30min Alligator into a 23min Caution. This Feedback is actually a good version, as is the final Bid.
Early Show: C
Late Show: C
Overall (both) = 2½ stars
Cumberland Blues - earnest
SOURCES: The 141917_sbd_composite_gastwirt_miller is a composite of the best sources, re-pitched and balanced. The early show is a tad fast, needing -1% pitch correction. The gerland_10988 has the complete tunings. Dave's Picks 10 has both shows, except for edited versions of Lovelight and Good Lovin'.